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Bolis the Cretan Agrees to Rescue Achaeus

(See 7, 15-18

Bolis was by birth a Cretan, who had long enjoyed the honours of high military rank at King Ptolemy's court, and the reputation of being second to none in natural ability, adventurous daring, and experience in war.

B.C. 214. Sosibius secures the help of Bolis to rescue Achaeus.
By repeated arguments Sosibius secured this man's fidelity; and when he felt sure of his zeal and affection he communicated the business in hand to him. He told him that he could not do the king a more acceptable service at the present crisis than by contriving some way of saving Achaeus. At the moment Bolis listened, and retired without saying more than that he would consider the suggestion. But after two or three days' reflection, he came to Sosibius and said that he would undertake the business; remarking that, having spent some considerable time at Sardis, he knew its topography, and that Cambylus, the commander of the Cretan contingent of the army of Antiochus, was not only a fellow citizen of his but a kinsmen and friend. It chanced moreover that Cambylus and his men had in charge one of the outposts on the rear of the acropolis, where the nature of the ground did not admit of siege-works, but was guarded by the permanent cantonment of troops under Cambylus. Sosibius caught at the suggestion, convinced that, if Achaeus could be saved at all from his dangerous situation, it could be better accomplished by the agency of Bolis than of any one else; and, this conviction being backed by great zeal on the part of Bolis, the undertaking was pushed on with despatch. Sosibius at once supplied the money necessary for the attempt, and promised a large sum besides in case of its success; at the same time raising the hopes of Bolis to the utmost by dilating upon the favours he might look for from the king, as well as from the rescued prince himself.

Full of eagerness therefore for success, Bolis set sail without delay, taking with him a letter in cipher and other credentials addressed to Nicomachus at Rhodes, who was believed to entertain a fatherly affection and devotion for Achaeus, and also to Melancomas at Ephesus; for these were the men formerly employed by Achaeus in his negotiations with Ptolemy, and in all other foreign affairs.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 157
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